Business of the Year
Winner: Aroma Coffee House and Eatery

In addition to creating 2 cafes and securing the Cafeteria contract at Bairnsdale Secondary College, Aroma Coffee House has created a unique business and staff development program that attracts new customers via its daily access to students PLUS provides, in conjunction with BSC, hospitality work experience at the Cafeteria and an opportunity to select/employ for their café business.

Food & Fibre
Sponsored by Food & Fibre Gippsland

Wnner: Flora & Fungi

Flora & Fungi has both developed and engineered its own mushroom growth system that is both more efficient than traditional methods and is more environmentally friendly in that, it eliminates the use of plastics commonly used in the growth and distribution phases of the production process.

Beauty, Health & Personal Care Services
Sponsored by Monash University

Winner: Wigney Osteopathy

Wigney Osteopathy has introduced the benefits of Osteopathy to the region as well as creating a dedicated Osteopathic clinic that has tripled its staff and services within the last 3 years. They are the providers of pro bono support to Buchan Football Club and have created a reciprocal support network amongst EG health professionals to enhance patient wellbeing.

Home Based and Internet Business
Sponsored by Prime 7

Winner: PonySafe

PonySafe was set up to teach intending pony owners (through fun and experiential learning techniques) all required skills to properly look after a pony PRIOR to purchase which has the effect of reducing mistreatment/neglect of animals. They now provide a range of services including pony parties, riding lessons and confidence boosting for all ages and therapeutic needs.

Sponsored by East Gippsland Shire Council

Winner: Aroma Coffee House and Eatery

Aroma Coffee House and Eatery has, in a short space of time created 2 cafes and taken on the daily operation of the Bairnsdale Secondary College cafeteria. They have a policy of providing quality food and have built a strong following around their practices of being active users of local food suppliers/producers and providers of work to over 50 local East Gippsland staff.

New Business
Sponsored by Tim Bull MP – Member for Gippsland East

Winner: Sodafish

Sodafish created to be both a destination tourist attraction for Lakes Entrance and a quality dining experience that focusses on locally caught seafood. Pivoting from dining to take away whilst establishing a new restaurant is always challenging however going from 0 to 4.5-star rating, refurbishing a venue and employing 40+ staff since opening in December 2020 has to be acknowledged as a powerful achievement.

Business and Professional Services
Sponsored by TAFE Gippsland

Winner: Natural Health Balance

Natural Health Balance recognised for ongoing support to improve the health of businesses and their employees both in EG and nationally. Also, in recognition of a new support program for farmers/small businesses run in conjunction with RFCS that is gaining the attention of the national Resilience and Recovery Agency in Canberra and the work done by Christine supporting EG women though the EmpowHer network.

Sponsored by Patties Foods

Winner: Seven Sundays Bairnsdale

Seven Sundays Bairnsdale has created a shopping destination and experience for women seeking unique, quality furnishings and apparel that are exclusive to the region. Like many businesses, Seven Sundays has had to adapt to Covid trading by providing safe premises, click and collect services and expanding its reliance on online sales. The store now supports and complimented by a strong online marketing program that generates sales to customers from local, national and international markets.

Tourism Activities, Attractions and Accommodation
Sponsored by V/Line

Winner: Nicholson River Winery

Nicholson River Winery is a long-term tourist attractor for EG with its unique wine blends, cellar door sales, contributions to wine marketing for the region via the “Twin Rivers Farm, Food &Wine Trail” and brochures throughout EG tourism venues. Growth and tourism influence of Nicholson River Winery is being developed through the opening in December 2019 of the Barrel Room restaurant/venue for private gatherings and the provision of weekend lunch sessions and/or catered functions utilising house wines in combination with meals featuring local produce.

Trades, Construction & Manufacturing
Sponsored by RACV Gippsland Solar

Winner: Blay Builders

In recognition of a building business that was purchased and changed from a ‘cookie cutter’ format to a craft builder focusing on building a limited quantity of quality designed homes featuring materials sourced from local providers and the use of employed (rather than contracted) skilled local craftsman. A unique feature of this business is their use of a digital platform that keeps everyone (customer, supplier, and tradespeople) engaged and updated on progress and requirements in real time.

Young Achiever in Business
Sponsored by East Gippsland Water

Winner: Sundayss

This award recognises Mallacoota resident Amy Preston (owner/operator of Sundayss) for her efforts in creating a new business in the aftermath of the bushfires designed to fill the gaps in the Mallacoota food and drink market with a great selection of healthy and traditional eating options and employ 10 locals. Amy’s other achievements include working actively in Bushfire recovery work AND studying nursing at Victoria University so she can become a disaster recovery nurse.

Business Excellence for Adaptability and Innovation
Sponsored by East Gippsland Marketing inc.

Winner: Playful Paws: Training and Wellness

This business had to close during the bushfires but immediately pivoted from providing dog training to dog caring and provision of a safe place for bushfire impacted clients to leave distressed animals. They have subsequently introduced a range of support services to clients (human and animal) that include – contactless pick up/drop off so pets can continue socialisation/training, video assessment of stressed pets and the provision of video support/training ideas for pet owners dealing with these issues, providing therapy dogs to local events and businesses to provide mental health support to those in need PLUS developed video based dog training programs to provide support for families working from home to train/manage their animals.

Encouragement Award

Soaps by Cosmo

Soaps by Cosmo is a business created by a man with Down Syndrome. Unable to get work and continuous rejection from numerous applications, Cosmo set about starting his own business to fulfil his drive to contribute to society and have a chance at financial independency. Cosmo learnt a new skill from YouTube and then created a product range and sales of these products during COVID and now has a goal to grow the business and provide ongoing work for other people with disability.

Deadly Wears

Deadly Wears is a business that cleverly tells its cultural story and shares its values of Caring for Country through the creation, production and sale of ethical and sustainable First Nations products for mob and allies. It is an inclusive brand, creating a culturally safe space, and highlights the diversity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Deadly Wears intends to support Traditional Owners to connect to Country and other social enterprises that put First Nations People first.